Memorabilia & Donations

This section of the MichiganPhysics blog encourages donations to the University of Michigan Physics Department.  Among the purposes of  this solicitation is the support of work that celebrates the distinguished history of our department.  Our future depends on recruiting the very best students, postdoctoral scholars, and young faculty;  the best prospects want to be where the best work has been done.    This recruitment will be enhanced if our achievements are better known and if our esprit de corps has championship attitude

Publicity for our achievements should be directed not only to prospective recruits but also to students and faculty  already here.    We should remind people on campus (whether indigenous or visitors) that from our department came the essential results that enabled fiber optic imaging, that pioneered the field of non-linear optics, that opened the microwave region to spectroscopy, that detected neutrinos from another galaxy.  We need visual reminders of our accomplishments, reminders that can trigger questions and discussion for better appreciation of our own past.

Donations will be recognized with  symbolic gifts drawn from an archive of UM (and other) physics memorabilia — many from my own accumulation, but some contributed by others.    Among these are scientific objects and instruments,  rare/collectible books, copies of important scientific papers , and graphic art (posters & photographs) related to UM Physics.


Example:   Mercury diffusion pump designed and built by Gunther Kessler.
($5,000 donation)

This is an example of the glass diffusion pumps made (from the late 1920’s onward) by Gunther Kessler, our famous glassblower  who was recruited by Randall in 1924 and remained until retirement in the late 1960’s.  These pumps operated with a jet of molecules from hot mercury vapor acting to  move residual gas from the evacuated volume to a region where a mechanical pump could pull them away.  Their use required careful trapping to keep mercury vapor confined.  [trap cooling provided by some combination of liquid nitrogen, dry ice + acetone, and cold water.


Example:  Dirac’s Quantum Mechanics, 2nd, 3rd editions
($1000 donation)

First edition is no longer available.

Second edition (actually scarcer than the first), from the library of Wilbur Peters.

Third edition, from the library of Max Zorn


Example:  Early Transistors from Bell Telephone Laboratories
($750 donation)

In ~1950, Bell Laboratories distributed to research laboratories samples of transistors that were to be put into production.  This pair is in a presentation case.00661-62BW-UrTransistors


Example:  General Electric FP54 Electrometer tube (~1937)
($500 donation)

this is a tube constructed to minimize leakage current from the control grid, this to enable the use of an extremely high grid resistor in order to measure feeble currents.  The interior of the tube features re-entrant glass resistors and other delicate construction.   FP54 tubes were used in the detector circuits for many molecular beam experiments including those that determined the quadrupole moment of the deuteron, the Lamb shift, and the anomalous magnetic moment of the bound electron.00668AW-73AW-FP54-electrometer

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